Why Fusion?, Dave Elliott, Environment Research Web (7/4/2009)
1. U.S. Targets North Korea's Missile, Nuclear Activities
(for personal use only)
The United States said on Tuesday it had cracked down on companies involved in North Korea's suspected missile proliferation and in purchases of equipment that could be used in a nuclear weapons program.
The Treasury and State Departments said they had targeted Iran's Hong Kong Electronics and North Korea's Namchongang Trading Corporation under an executive order that would freeze their U.S. assets and bar U.S. firms from dealing with them.
The move appeared aimed at isolating the companies from the U.S. financial and commercial systems and, by extension, from other countries' banks and corporations who may resist doing business with them out of fear of falling afoul of U.S. laws.
It was immediately not clear whether either company actually has any U.S. assets that could be frozen.
The steps are part of an effort to get tough with North Korea, which conducted its second nuclear test this year and which has ceased carrying out a 2005 agreement to abandon its nuclear programs in exchange for economic and diplomatic benefits.
The U.S. Treasury said that it had targeted Hong Kong Electronics, which is located in Kish Island, Iran, because it had transferred millions of dollars of proliferation-related funds to North Korea from Iran.
"North Korea uses front companies like Hong Kong Electronics and a range of other deceptive practices to obscure the true nature of its financial dealings, making it nearly impossible for responsible banks and governments to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate North Korean transactions," Stuart Levey, undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the statement.
The State Department described Namchongang as a Pyongyang-based "nuclear-related company" and said it has been involved in the purchase of aluminum tubes and other equipment "specifically suitable for a uranium enrichment program since the late 1990s."
Uranium enrichment is a process that can produce fuel for nuclear power plants or for nuclear weapons.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN3045605620090630?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews\
Impoverished North Korea has spent an estimated $US700 million ($880 million) this year on nuclear and missile tests, enough to solve its food shortage for at least two years, South Korean news reports say.
The figure includes the estimated $US43 million ($54 million) cost of test-firing five Scud and two Rodong missiles on Saturday, according to unidentified government officials quoted by Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
The latest tests, staged on the US Independence Day holiday, were seen as a show of defiance to Washington as it seeks tough enforcement of UN sanctions aimed at shutting down the communist state's nuclear and missile programs.
Officials quoted by Chosun estimated it cost $US300 million ($378 million) to launch a long-range Taepodong-2 missile on April 5, and another $US10 million ($12.6 million) to launch 10 short-range missiles in recent weeks.
In addition, they estimated the May 25 underground nuclear test - the country's second since 2006 - cost between $US300 million to $US400 million ($378 million to $504 million).
JoongAng Ilbo gave similar figures. Neither paper gave the methodology for the cost calculation.
Chosun quoted an unidentified official as saying the North could have bought one million tonnes of rice on the international market for $US300 million ($378 million).
"This amount of rice could have solved the North's food shortage for about a year," the official was quoted as saying.
The UN World Food Program has said that according to a study last year, nearly nine million North Koreans - more than a third of the country's 24 million people - are estimated to need food aid.
Saturday's launches were the biggest salvo of ballistic weaponry since the North fired a Taepodong-2 and six smaller missiles in 2006, also on July 4 US time.
US Vice-President Joseph Biden on Sunday dismissed the launches as "like almost attention-seeking behaviour" and said the focus was on further isolating Pyongyang.
"We have succeeded in uniting the most important and critical countries to North Korea on a common path of further isolating North Korea," he told ABC Television in the US, referring to Russia and China.
These have been traditionally resistant to tough sanctions on Pyongyang but backed the latest measures approved on June 12.
US and South Korean officials believe ailing leader Kim Jong-Il, 67, is staging a show of strength to bolster his authority as he tries to put in place a succession plan involving his youngest son Jong-Un.
Available at: http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,25740199-5003402,00.html
3. North Fires Seven Missiles into the East Sea on July 4
(for personal use only)
North Korea fired seven more short-range missiles Saturday in apparent defiance of the United States as Americans celebrated their Independence Day holiday.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed Saturday that North Korea launched two missiles between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., with a third following at 10:45 a.m. and a fourth at noon. The North then launched one each at 2:50 p.m., 4:10 p.m. and 5:40 p.m.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said all seven missiles were launched from the Gitdaeryong missile base near Wonsan, Gangwon Province, off the peninsula’s east coast. A military source said all appeared to be Scud-type missiles with a range of between 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) and 500 kilometers.
When the first four missiles were fired, it was Friday night in Eastern Standard Time, just before the Fourth of July began in that time zone. On July 5, 2006, during Independence Day in Washington, the North fired a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which fizzled out and fell into the ocean shortly after takeoff. North Korea also launched six additional short range missiles that day.
North Korea also fired four short-range missiles Thursday evening in what appeared to be a protest against a series of U.S. moves to put pressure on Pyongyang. The U.S. government said last week it would freeze the assets of two companies, one North Korean and the other Iranian, with alleged connections to the North Korean proliferation network. A U.S. interagency delegation visited Beijing to ensure the implementation of the United Nations’ sanctions against Pyongyang, which were adopted after the North’s nuclear test on May 25. The State Department said it would not provide food aid to North Korea without assurance that it was reaching starving North Koreans.
After Thursday’s launches, U.S. President Barack Obama hinted at more sanctions against the North, and the U.S. State Department said Saturday that the latest launches only “highlight the importance of fully implementing the provisions of the UN resolutions.”
“North Korea should refrain from actions that aggravate tensions and focus on denuclearization talks,” said department spokesman Karl Duckworth. “This type of North Korean behavior is not helpful. What North Korea needs to do is fulfill its international obligations and commitments.”
The South Korean government reacted with little surprise to Thursday’s missiles. But on Saturday, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul blasted the action as “provocation that is in clear violation” of UN Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from ballistic missile-related activities. The ministry vowed the South would keep working with allies to help ensure implementation of the resolutions.
“We urge North Korea to fulfill the Security Council resolutions,” said the ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young. “It’s deeply deplorable that North Korea repeatedly defies UN resolutions and raises tension in Northeast Asia.”
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the country was “fully ready to counter any North Korean threats and provocations based on strong South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture.”
There are about 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
Japan, which has previously seen long-range rockets fly over its main island, condemned the latest firing as “a serious act of provocation against the security of neighboring countries, including Japan, and is against the resolution of the UN Security Council.”
The Obama administration has strengthened its missile defense system in Hawaii and California in anticipation of a long-range missile launch from the North.
Media reports have claimed Pyongyang was targeting Independence Day to fire its Taepodong-2, with a theoretical range of 6,000 kilometers, enough to reach Alaska.
But Newsweek reported last Thursday, citing U.S. government officials, that it was “essentially impossible” for the North to launch the long-range missile by the Fourth of July because it had not assembled the rocket on a launch pad.
Two U.S. security officials told the magazine it would take weeks to put together the rocket. And once assembled, officials said fueling the rocket would require another several days.
The preparation process would be “easily visible” to U.S. spy satellites and also to commercial satellites that take pictures, according to an official.
The report concluded the earliest another long-range missile could be fired would be “several weeks” away. But the United States wasn’t taking any chances on Independence Day.
“We continue to closely monitor North Korea’s missile activity,” the Pentagon’s press secretary Geoff Morrell told The Washington Post. “Although their previous long-range launches have failed, [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates is not taking any chances. He recently enhanced the nation’s layered missile defenses by deploying additional capabilities in Hawaii. That will protect our fellow citizens should North Korea once again defy the international community and attempt another long-range missile launch.”
The launches came as Chinese officials, including top nuclear envoy Wu Dawei, were visiting Moscow to discuss North Korean nuclear issues. Wu is scheduled to visit Seoul this week.
And after the meeting, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two countries had agreed that all sides should refrain from bringing further instability to the region.
Russia and China have been reluctant to bring the hammer down on the North after its recent run of belligerent rhetoric and activities and have often asked regional powers to exercise more calm.
And the Russian Foreign Ministry also said the six-party framework in denuclearization discussions remains the best possible option to help dismantle the North’s nuclear program.
“The two sides are convinced that there is no alternative to the six-party negotiations which are an efficient instrument to resolve the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula,” the ministry said in a statement.
Available at: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2907043
Jordan's Queen Noor, a founder of an international initiative to eliminate nuclear weapons, called on the presidents of the United States and Russia to advance the cause at their Monday summit by agreeing to significant cuts in their arsenals.
President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April issued a joint statement committing themselves to the goal of a nuclear weapons-free world. The two leaders are to meet Monday in Moscow for talks that many expect will lead to a framework agreement on new weapons cuts beyond the START-1 treaty that expires this year.
"We're so heartened that President Obama and President Medvedev have made that commitment. We pray they will build on that in the July 6th meeting, commit to deep reductions in their arsenals that will then help us to begin multilateral negotiations with the other nuclear countries that we hope will deter other countries aspiring to become nuclear ... to see that the movement is going against them," Noor said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN.
Noor is one of the founders of Global Zero, which includes current and former senior officials from nuclear powers. The organization last month presented a four-step plan aimed at eliminating nuclear weapons by 2030.
The American-born Noor, the widow of King Hussein, said materials exist in some 40 countries "to make another 100,000 bombs over the 23,000 estimated that we have today. The dangers of those materials ending up in the hands of terrorists or misused by governments is increasing by the day."
Turning to the Middle East, Noor expressed hope that Obama could mobilize support in the United States and elsewhere to see peace realized in the region.
Such peace, she said, must be based on justice, "the removal of illegal obstacles to peace, the rights of all living in the region, and freedom from occupation of the Palestinian people." She did not elaborate.
Noor called Obama "a truer and more honest friend to Israel as well as to others in the region that perhaps anyone that has preceded him."
Obama has taken a tougher stand with Israel than past U.S. administrations by calling for a complete halt to Jewish settlement building in the West Bank in order to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"He is talking about what is in the best interest of the security of the people of Israel as well as the security of the Palestinians and others in the region," she said.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jIZzT0x9ISOHlKu0WVS21K9ZFQJgD998CUU81
2. Serbia, IAEA Sign Additional Protocol on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)
Serbia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed here on Friday an additional protocol to the agreement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The protocol was signed by Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic and IAEA Director-general Mohamed El Baradei.
Addressing a press conference after the signing ceremony, Djelic said that once the Serbian parliament ratifies the protocol, the IAEA would carry out detailed inspections across Serbia, similar to the ones that were made at Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences, which was founded in 1948 and lies some 17 km southeast of Belgrade.
"Serbia is willing for the inspections to be carried out at any point in time anywhere in the country so that it is verified that it has no nuclear proliferation plans," said Djelic, adding that developing nuclear weapons was neither a policy of the former Yugoslavia nor of Serbia.
He said that by signing the protocol, Serbia has shown that it is part of the international efforts for controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Djelic said that one of the important subjects discussed with El Baradei was the transfer of used nuclear fuel from the research reactor at Vinca.
He said that 23 million out of 25 million U.S. dollars necessary for the transfer of used nuclear fuel from the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences have already been provided, adding that nuclear waste is expected to be sent to Russia by the end of 2010.
In a 2009 report, IAEA officials said there were 8,030 used rods at Vinca Institute's spent fuel pool, only 2 km from the River Danube, stored in rusty and leaking containers.
El Baradei voiced his satisfaction with the cooperation between Serbia and the IAEA.
He said that the Vinca Institute has been posing a security threat for a while and therefore used nuclear fuel must be transferred to Russia as soon as possible.
The two officials also discussed the possibility of using nuclear technologies for the development of science, agriculture and the protection of cultural heritage.
El Baradei pointed to the importance of the usage of nuclear energy in medical diagnostics and therapy, particularly when it comes to cardiology and oncology, announcing that the IAEA will soon send an expert team to Serbia to estimate Serbia's needs concerning nuclear medicine.
Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-07/04/content_11649540.htm
Thousands of additional law enforcement officers within 50 miles (80 km) of New York City will have access to radiation detectors for dirty bombs and nuclear devices, New York police said on Wednesday.
The detectors, including cell phone-sized devices that officers wear on their belts, could help uncover a dirty bomb that might be assembled outside New York and smuggled in, police said at a security conference. New York Police Department officers have used such devices for several years.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said thousands of law enforcement officers would be using the devices in areas surrounding New York City, including state police and sheriff's departments in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The increase in officers and equipment was being funded by a federal program called "Securing the Cities" that had been allocated $54 million (32.7 million pounds) in the past three years, Browne said.
Nearly eight years after the September 11 attacks in 2001, New York remains the top target for groups like al Qaeda planning attacks on the United States, police and lawmakers said, and the possibility of a radiological attack on a public transport system remained high.
"We know that terrorists come here and we know that they are surveying here," said Captain Michael Riggio of the NYPD counterterrorism division.
The belt devices, which buzz when they detect radiation, are the "first line of defence" against a possible dirty bomb or a small-scale nuclear device, he said.
A dirty bomb, which combines conventional explosives such as dynamite with radioactive material, could have a devastating impact and close down the surrounding area for several years.
Police hope the small detectors will soon be equipped with Bluetooth technology and synchronized with a police command centre that will instantaneously trace on a map the exact location of radiological material and snap a picture of the offending vehicle or person.
The use of larger radiation detection devices, which are set up in NYPD cars, boats and helicopters and at subway, bridge and car tunnel entrances, is also being expanded.
While security experts believed the threat of a global nuclear war had decreased, the risk of a one-off radiological or nuclear attack had increased, Riggio said.
Browne said small-scale nuclear devices were harder to make so a dirty bomb was a more likely pick for militant groups.
"We still don't have an adequate strategy of detecting nuclear material," New York Police commissioner Ray Kelly said at the conference. Browne said Kelly was referring to inadequate security at the country's ports, where radioactive materials could be smuggled in through large cargo containers.
Available at: http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/5697469/new-york-police-expand-dirty-bomb-security/
4. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Signs the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
(for personal use only)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the 181st State to have signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The signing ceremony took place on 2 July 2009 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
30 of the 33 States in Latin America and the Caribbean are now Signatories to the CTBT and 28 of those have already ratified it. The three remaining non-signatories are Cuba Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Prior to today’s signature, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had already shown its interest in the work of the Prepatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). The country participated in a regional CTBTO workshop in Nassau, Bahamas, in November 2007 and in a CTBTO-related regional ministerial meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica, in September 2008. A delegation from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines led by the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sir Louis Straker, is planning to come to Vienna, Austria, for an information visit later this month.
With 181 signatories, adherence to the CTBT is almost universal. To enter into force, however, the Treaty must be signed and ratified by the 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty. These States participated in the negotiations of the Treaty in 1996 and possessed nuclear power or research reactors at the time. Thirty-five of these States have ratified the treaty including the three nuclear weapons States France, Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. The remaining nine States are China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.
A verification regime is being built to monitor compliance with the CTBT. 337 facilities worldwide will monitor underground, the oceans and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion. Today, close to 250 facilities have been certified and incorporated into the network, and can send data to the International Data Centre at the CTBTO in Vienna.
Available at: http://www.ctbto.org/press-centre/press-releases/2009/saint-vincent-and-the-grenadines-signscomprehensive-nuclear-test-ban-treaty/
5. Lugar Praises Removal of Romanian Nuclear Materials
(for personal use only)
U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar today praised the work of the Department of Energy´s National Nuclear Security Administration Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) for the complete removal and secure storage of Romania´s highly enriched uranium.
"The National Nuclear Security Administration´s Global Threat Reduction Initiative has achieved another victory in the fight against proliferation with the removal of more highly enrichment uranium from Romania, returning this material back to Russia. This comes after removal of a large amount of bomb material from Kazakhstan last May. These successes represent continued progress in meeting goals set out by Russia and the United States in the 2005 Bratislava Joint Statement on Nuclear Security Cooperation," Lugar said.
"In 2007, former Senator Sam Nunn and I visited the one of Russia´s best-known nuclear scientific research facilities at Luch, outside of Moscow. We were briefed on the important work that the Global Threat Reduction Initiative was accomplishing with its Russian counterparts. At that point, Luch had received shipments of high-risk nuclear fuel from various locations around the world, including from Latvia, Libya, Germany, and most recently Poland. I have seen GTRI´s work firsthand and I congratulate them, again, on a job well done."
The GTRI has removed and secured some material from Romania in the past. As of May, approximately 838 kilograms (1,844 lbs) of Russian-origin HEU spent and fresh fuel has been returned from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Libya, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The spent nuclear fuel from Romania will be placed into secure storage at the Mayak Production Association.
In November 1991, Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) authored the Nunn-Lugar Act, which established the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. This program has provided U.S. funding and expertise to help the former Soviet Union safeguard and dismantle its enormous stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related materials, and delivery systems. In 2003, Congress adopted the Nunn-Lugar Expansion Act, which authorized the Nunn-Lugar program to operate outside the former Soviet Union to address proliferation threats. In 2004, Nunn-Lugar funds were committed for the first time outside of the former Soviet Union to destroy chemical weapons in Albania, under a Lugar-led expansion of the program. In 2007, Lugar announced the complete destruction of Albania´s chemical weapons.
The Nunn-Lugar scorecard now totals 7,514 strategic nuclear warheads deactivated, 752 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) destroyed, 498 ICBM silos eliminated, 143 ICBM mobile launchers destroyed, 643 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) eliminated, 476 SLBM launchers eliminated, 31 nuclear submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles destroyed, 155 bomber eliminated, 906 nuclear air-to-surface missiles (ASMs) destroyed, 194 nuclear test tunnels eliminated, 444 nuclear weapons transport train shipments secured, upgraded security at 24 nuclear weapons storage sites, and built and equipped 18 biological monitoring stations. Perhaps most importantly, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus are nuclear weapons free as a result of cooperative efforts under the Nunn-Lugar program. Those countries were the third, fourth and eighth largest nuclear weapons powers in the world.
Lugar makes annual oversight trips to Nunn-Lugar sites around the world.
Available at: http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/108251
6. NNSA Announces Removal of Last Highly Enriched Uranium from Romania
National Nuclear Security Administration
(for personal use only)
The National Nuclear Security Administration today announced the final shipments of Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) nuclear fuel from Romania. The material was removed and returned to Russia by air for storage at two secure nuclear facilities, making Romania the first country to remove all HEU since President Obama outlined his commitment to securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. This was also the first time NNSA has shipped “spent” HEU by airplane, a development that will help accelerate efforts to meet the President’s objective.
“With these shipments, all HEU has been successfully removed from Romania,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “This represents a major step forward in NNSA’s ongoing efforts to implement President Obama’s unprecedented nuclear security agenda by securing vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide and reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism. Not only do these shipments clean-out the last of the HEU in Romania, but the successful use of an airplane to return spent fuel to Russia opens new opportunities to accelerate our schedule of spent fuel shipments. We very much appreciate the efforts of Romania, Russia, and the International Atomic Energy Agency in this cooperative effort.”
The shipments are part of NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which also removed all U.S.-origin HEU from Romania in 2008. NNSA worked in close cooperation with Romania, Russia, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to return the material.
In one shipment, 23.7 kilograms (52 pounds) of spent HEU stored at a research reactor in Magurele, Romania, was packaged into Russian TUK-19 specialized transportation casks. The casks were then secured in shipping containers, transported in an armed convoy from the reactor site to a nearby airport, loaded onto an Antonov-124 cargo plane, and flown to a secure facility in Russia near Chelyabinsk.
In addition, 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of fresh HEU from a reactor in Pitesti was shipped by air to a secure Russian facility near Dimitrovgrad.
With the completion of these shipments, Romania is the 14th country to have all of its HEU removed. Previous countries to have all HEU removed include Brazil, Bulgaria, Columbia, Denmark, Greece, Latvia, Philippines, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Thailand. This results in permanent threat reduction because it eliminates bomb material at civilian sites. Each kilogram of HEU that is removed reduces the risk of a terrorist bomb.
In a speech in Prague earlier this year, President Obama outlined his commitment to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years and build on our efforts to detect and intercept nuclear materials in transit. NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative is a critical element of efforts to achieve those objectives.
The shipments from Romania are in accordance with a prioritized, accelerated schedule developed from the February 2005 Bratislava Joint Statement on Nuclear Security Cooperation, which specifically called for international cooperation to return HEU fuel from U.S. and Russian-designed research reactors in other countries and to take other steps to reduce the threat of global nuclear terrorism.
GTRI’s mission is to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites worldwide. With the successful completion of these shipments, a total of approximately 862 kilograms (1,896 lbs) of Russian-origin HEU fuel have been returned from Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Libya, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Vietnam since the program began.
A fact sheet on NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative is available online at http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/2330.htm.
NNSA also agreed in September 2008 to work with the Romanian Frontier Police to equip selected sites with radiation detection equipment and provide training in use and response as part of the Second Line of Defence Program, which helps detect, deter, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radiological materials. NNSA’s International Nuclear Export Control Program has been working with the Romanian Border Police since 2004 to prevent illicit transfers of material, equipment, and technology related to weapons of mass destruction.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Available at: http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2408.htm
1. Sweden Offers India Civilian Nuclear Technology
(for personal use only)
Sweden, a member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, is offering New Delhi its niche expertise in nuclear waste management and security as it eyes India's $40 billion civilian nuclear energy market.
"Sweden has considerable expertise in nuclear waste management and areas relating to nuclear security. We are exploring opportunities of partnering with India in this area," Sweden's Ambassador to India Lars-Olof Lindgren told IANS in an interview here.
The envoy said a delegation of Swedish companies operating in the area of nuclear technology and safety management came to India this April on an exploratory trip. They held talks with officials of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and also met India's nuclear points man Anil Kakodkar, chief of the Atomic Energy Commission.
The delegation comprised Swedish atomic companies such as Sandpit, Swenson, SKB International Consulting AB, Studbook, ES-consult and Rel con Candlepower AB.
Another Swedish delegation will be coming to India soon to explore opportunities in the nuclear energy area, the envoy said, adding that nuclear technology solutions is a promising area of future cooperation between the two countries.
Swedish companies are also in touch with Indian private companies such as Larsen and Toubro and Bharat Forge which are interested in the production of nuclear power, currently the monopoly of the government in India.
The envoy sought to dispel the impression that Sweden, like other Scandinavian countries, was reluctant to support a consensus for India in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group - the global cartel that controls global trade in nuclear equipment and materials.
"We consider India as a responsible nuclear power and understand its need for energy and nuclear development. Sweden was never questioning a change in the NSG guidelines," the envoy underlined.
He also outlined possibilities of cooperation in renewable solar and wind energy and clean energy technologies in which Sweden is a pacesetter.
Sweden depends on nuclear power for nearly 50 percent of its energy needs. In a radical departure from its established policy, the Swedish government scrapped a three-decade ban on building new nuclear reactors in February this year, saying it needed to avoid producing more greenhouse gases.
The Swedish government is now planning to replace old reactors with new reactors, the envoy said.
The Indian nuclear power market is estimated to touch $40 billion or Rs.20,000 crore by 2020. Atomic companies from the US, Russia, France and Kazakhstan, the four countries with which India has signed bilateral nuclear pacts, are vying to get a share of the nuclear pie. British companies specializing in nuclear safety and research have also opened contacts with India.
Available at: http://twocircles.net/2009jul05/sweden_offers_india_civilian_nuclear_technology.html
2. Japan's Amano Says 'Very Pleased' at IAEA Election
(for personal use only)
Japanese candidate Yukiya Amano said Thursday he was 'very pleased' after he won the race to head the International Atomic Energy Agency. "This afternoon I have received the support from 23 countries which is the necessary number of votes to be selected as the next director general of the IAEA," Amano told journalists. "I am very pleased for this support."
Amano scraped through to victory in the sixth round of voting on Thursday, when 23 of the IAEA's 35 board members voted in his favour, 11 voted against and one country abstained.
He had been competing against South African ambassador Abdul Samad Minty.
The election process is not over, however.
Under the rules of procedure, all 145 IAEA member states are to meet again on Friday afternoon where they will formally appoint Amano "by acclamation".
But he will not be officially named until the IAEA's General Conference give its green light in September.
"If I have the privilege of being elected as the new director general of the IAEA, I will do my utmost to enhance the welfare of the human beings and ensure sustainable development through the peaceful use of nuclear energy," Amano said Thursday.
"Also, as a national coming from Japan, I'll do my utmost to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. In order to do that, solidarity of all the member states countries from North, from South, from East and West is absolutely necessary."
Available at: http://www.spacewar.com/2006/090702145724.9a6zc0gh.html
Israel is urging the United States and other countries to start preparing now for the possibility that Washington's proposed dialogue with Iran will fail, by readying a "Plan B" that includes "paralyzing sanctions" and other measures against Tehran.
The U.S. has resisted this idea so far.
The Israeli messages - sent against the background of the recent unrest in Iran - have been delivered to the White House, the State Department and senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community by senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry. Similar messages have been sent to senior officials in Germany, Russia, France and Japan. Advertisement
Israel's argument is that if the Americans are indeed committed to imposing "paralyzing sanctions" on Iran should the dialogue fail - as both U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said in the past - the work of drafting these sanctions must begin now.
"Israel is adjusting its messages to the new circumstances created by the unrest in Iran," a senior government official said. "These things must be stated clearly now so that there is no confusion about our position."
Before the protests in Iran began, the official explained, Israel's assessment was that the planned American-Iranian dialogue had little chance of succeeding. But in light of the protests, and the need of Iranian hard-liners to shore up their rule, Israel's intelligence community believes the chances of the dialogue even beginning, much less succeeding, are near zero.
"In the situation that has arisen following the protests in Iran, there is much greater international readiness for harsh steps against the regime in Tehran," the official noted.
However, Washington has so far rejected the "Plan B" idea.
American officials involved in the Iranian issue have told their Israeli counterparts that they are aware of the frustration in Israel, Europe and the Gulf states over Washington's insistence on going ahead with the dialogue with Iran, and that they also do not believe the chances of success are high.
Nevertheless, they said, were the U.S. to start laying the groundwork for stiffer sanctions now, this would signal to the Iranians that Obama is not serious about dialogue with Tehran, which would foil any chances of success that the dialogue might have.
This exchange of messages has a positive side: The two countries have at least resumed serious conversation on the Iranian issue, after a hiatus of almost six months.
On the negative side, however, Israel's concern about Washington's lack of alternative plan should the dialogue fail remains unassuaged. Germany, Britain and France are all thought to share this concern.
Israeli officials dealing with the Iranian issue said cooperation with Germany, Britain and France has been very fruitful, and that the three European powers have been working with Israel to achieve two goals: getting the U.S. to assess the progress of the dialogue with Iran during the UN General Assembly meeting in September, rather than waiting another few months, and securing publication of the military appendix to the International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran due to be submitted in September.
Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday that Israel will decide for itself whether to attack Iran.
In an interview with ABC television, Biden said: "Israel can determine for itself - it's a sovereign nation - what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else. Whether we agree or not. They're entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that."
Biden insisted that pressure from Israel or other countries would not affect American's planned dialogue with Iran. "There is no pressure from any nation that is going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed," he said, adding that Washington believes this dialogue serves America's interests, as well as those of Israel and the rest of the world.
But "if the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that," he continued. "That is not our choice."
The U.S., he stressed, "cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do."
Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1098043.html
2. IAEA's New Chief Promises 'Utmost' to Unblock Iran Standoff
(for personal use only)
The UN atomic watchdog's incoming chief Yukiya Amano promised Friday to do his "utmost" to resolve a long-running nuclear standoff with Iran after governors formally gave their nod of approval to his appointment.
As the organisation in charge of nuclear safeguards, the task of the International Atomic Energy Agency's director general was to make sure that member countries stuck to their commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Amano told journalists.
"What is expected of the director general and the agency is to implement these safeguards agreements in a professional and impartial manner. And I will do my utmost" to do so, he said.
The IAEA has been investigating Iran's controversial nuclear programme for the past six years, but has so far been unable to establish whether the activities are entirely peaceful as Tehran claims.
Iran is defying the UN Security Council and amassing low-enriched uranium which the United States and its allies fear could play a crucial role in building a nuclear weapon.
The agency's current chief, Egyptian-born Mohamed ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for his work at the IAEA, has frequently been criticized, particularly by the United States and some of its Western allies, for being too lenient with Iran and for politicizing the agency.
ElBaradei is stepping down at the end of November after 12 years in office. And Amano has pledged in the past to try and depoliticize the IAEA and its work.
On Thursday, Amano -- who had been competing against South African ambassador Abdul Samad Minty for the influential post -- scraped through to victory after six rounds of secret ballots with just enough votes for the two-thirds majority.
But under the agency's rules of procedure, his appointment had to be approved "by acclamation" at a second board meeting on Friday, this time open to all 146 IAEA member states.
"Today, I was appointed as the next director general by acclamation, I mean by consensus, to serve for four years starting December 1, 2009," Amano announced.
The next and final hurdle will be the IAEA's general conference in September. And once it has given the green light, Amano will take over from ElBaradei when he steps down at the end of November.
The appointment process was long and protracted -- Amano previously failed to convince board members in a first formal vote back in March -- largely because the 35-member board is so deeply divided between the industrialised West and developing countries.
And the Japanese diplomat was largely seen as the preferred candidate of the West.
He insisted Friday that the director general "is an independent person. I will continue to be independent from any group or any region. As the ballotting was secret, it is difficult to know what happened, but it seems to me that I got support from developed countries as well as developing countries. Otherwise it's not possible to be elected," he said.
"I would like to reflect the interests of all the regions, all the countries and all the groups."
Asked what his priorities as agency head would be, Amano said there was no number one priority, but that technical cooperation, peaceful use of nuclear technology, non-proliferation, the assurance of nuclear fuel were all key issues facing the IAEA.
Turning to North Korea, which earlier this year expelled IAEA inspectors after international efforts to negotiate an end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programmes virtually collapsed, Amano said he "sincerely" hoped six-nation talks would resume.
Dialogue was "the only way for a solution", he said.
"I expect that the IAEA will be able to play an important role in verification of the nuclear issues of North Korea."
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/440273/1/.html
The incoming head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday he did not see any hard evidence Iran was trying to gain the ability to develop nuclear arms.
"I don't see any evidence in IAEA official documents about this," Yukiya Amano told Reuters in his first direct comment on Iran's atomic program since his election, when asked whether he believed Tehran was seeking nuclear weapons capability.
Current International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei said last month it was his "gut feeling" Iran was seeking the ability to produce nuclear arms, if it desired, as an "insurance policy" against perceived threats.
"I'm not going to be a "soft" Director-General or a "tough" Director-General," Amano told Reuters, when asked how he would approach Iran and Syria, both subject to stalled IAEA probes.
Amano, a veteran Japanese diplomat, won over the agency's member states on Friday, including developing countries which had tried to thwart his bid for the politically-sensitive post.
Amano is regarded as a reserved technocrat who would de-politicize the IAEA helm after 12 years of direction by ElBaradei, an outspoken Nobel Peace laureate. He retires in November.
Diplomats say the IAEA cannot afford weak leadership or a governing body polarized between nuclear "have" and "have not" nations at a time of danger to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Amano was only narrowly elected as Director-General on Thursday, but the win was sealed by acclamation at a closed-door meeting of the IAEA's 146 members on Friday.
"The Director-General of the agency is an independent person. I will continue to be independent from any group, any region," Amano told reporters after the meeting.
Amano got the strongest backing from Western states keen for the IAEA to toughen steps against the spread of nuclear arms. But his rise has worried developing nations who see the non-proliferation maxim being used as an excuse to deny them a fair share of nuclear know-how.
Iran has exploited such tensions, winning sympathy in the developing world, by arguing that to stop uranium enrichment as major world powers demand would violate its sovereignty, stunt its energy development and perpetuate inequality.
The enrichment process can be configured to produce fuel either for nuclear power plants or weapons. Iran insists its programme is only aimed at producing nuclear power.
To produce a nuclear weapon Iran would have to adjust its enrichment plant to yield bomb-ready nuclear fuel and miniaturize the material to fit into a warhead -- steps that could take from six months to a year or more, analysts say. It would also have to kick out IAEA inspectors and leave the NPT.
Amano told reporters he would do his utmost to implement IAEA safeguard agreements in Iran and Syria. He also said there was hope for future agency work in North Korea, which told IAEA inspectors to leave in April and which has since carried out a nuclear test. It fired four short-range missiles on Thursday.
"I expect sincerely that (six-party diplomatic) talks will resume because only dialogue is the way for a solution," Amano said. "Upon the decision of...talks, I expect that the IAEA will be able to play an important role in the verification of nuclear issues in North Korea."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL312024420090703
Increasingly unpopular Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero sought a Solomonic solution last week when he ordered the shutdown of the country's oldest nuclear power plant for 2013, but few are pleased.
Mr. Zapatero had pledged to decommission nuclear plants once their 40-year lifespan expired, which in the case of the Santa María de Garoña station would have been in 2011. But then politics and the economy got in the way.
"It's not an easy decision," he said Thursday, acknowledging that he would be "criticized by both sides."
And indeed he was. Parties to the left – vital to Zapatero's governing coalition in Parliament – attacked the decision to postpone the closure of Garoña and questioned the prime minister's credibility and integrity.
The conservative Popular Party, already in pre-campaign mode, said it would overturn the government's decision if it wins the 2012 general elections and that it would extend Garoña's lifespan until 2019, which is the date approved by Spain's nuclear watchdog agency in a non-binding report.
Garoña generates about 1.4 percent of the country's electricity and its 466-megawatt reactor is Spain's smallest. But the nuclear industry, which supplies 20 percent of the country's power, is concerned the decision could set a precedent.
Although none of the seven other nuclear plants are due for decommissioning for more than a decade, their operating licenses need to be renewed by Zapatero's administration. The government was quick, though, to describe Garoña's shutdown as an isolated case. It also said the 40-year lifespan of the remaining plants is not in jeopardy.
"It's a cowardly lion solution," said Ken Dubin, a political science professor at Carlos III University in Madrid. "The nuclear issue is a wildcard that could prompt socialists to stay home or motivate them to vote for parties more to the left."
In effect, Zapatero postponed the ultimate debate over nuclear power until after the next elections. He also threw a bone to the energy industry, Mr. Dubin says. Garoña's owners, the two biggest utilities in Spain, Iberdrola and Endesa, say that they intend to sue the government for damages.
In polls, almost 60 percent of Spaniards say they are against nuclear power. That is by far the lowest level of support of any European country with operating nuclear plants, according to the latest Eurobarometer 2008 survey.
World gives nuclear energy another look
If Spain phases out nuclear power, it would be going against a global nuclear revival. There are 48 power reactors under construction, mostly in Asia, but several European Union countries are planning to build a new generation of power plants, including Britain, France, Finland, Poland, and Bulgaria.
The EU Commission, the International Energy Agency, and several other international institutions support a nuclear renaissance to fight global warming and to increase security of supply.
France, which generates most of its electricity through nuclear power, is also pushing to include atomic energy as a renewable source in the recently created International Renewable Energy Agency because of its zero greenhouse gas emission credentials.
Energy and politics
In terms of energy production, Garoña annually saves Spain the equivalent of about 1 million tons of oil and about 2.5 million tons of greenhouses gases. Spain's emissions have increased by 53 percent since 1990, by far the biggest transgressor in Western Europe, according to the latest European Environment Agency data.
And despite its efforts to boost renewable energy sources, which now account for around 20 percent of generated electricity, Spain continues to depend on expensive fossil fuels for more than 80 percent of its primary energy use.
Zapatero said he was committed to keeping only what is "essential" of Spain's nuclear park, labeling his decision "foremost a bet on renewable power because it is the future."
The halfway solution was "unsatisfactory," said Maria Teresa Dominguez, who presides over the Nuclear Forum, the umbrella group representing the industry. "This is a political and ideological decision. It is shortsighted. It's just incoherent and we can't understand it."
Available at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0705/p06s10-wogn.html
The Indian nuclear power market is estimated to touch $40 billion or Rs 20,000 crore by 2020, according to a study by an online research portal.
This mainly includes opportunities for power equipment manufacturers, uranium suppliers and forging companies in and outside India.
To gain a larger share in the pie, companies from Russia, France and Kazakhstan are among those discussing fuel and equipment supply with the government for upcoming nuclear power plants. India currently has 17 operating nuclear power reactors with a capacity of 4120 mw. It plans to increase this to 10,000 mw by 2012.
J K Ghai, director-finance, Nuclear Power Corp of India (NPCIL), had told DNA Money after the signing of the nuclear agreement that the country can comfortably reach a capacity of 10,000 mw with indigenous mined uranium. But to go beyond that, foreign collaboration had to be sought.
Nuclear power currently accounts for only 2.3% of India's total electricity generation. The government is planning to develop nuclear power in order to address its power scarcity issues, reduce its dependency on imported oil and coal.
"The country has set a target of reaching about 5% nuclear contribution to the country's total power amounting to 20GW by 2020 and 63GW contributing to about 35% by 2030. The Indo-US nuclear deal makes such a high target feasible," the report said.
The report talks about major opportunities opening up for companies such as Larsen & Toubro, Bhel, Bharat Forge, Punj Lloyd and NTPC.
At present, nuclear power production is under government control and only NPCIL can set up and run nuclear power plants. Indian companies can only hold minority stakes in joint ventures with NPCIL. However, industry experts believe the law is likely to be amended soon to allow the entry of private players.
The Economic Survey tabled in the Parliament by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "The Atomic Energy Act needs to be amended to permit private corporate investment in nuclear power, subject to regulation by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the Atomic Energy Commission." It also suggested framing the rules for private and foreign entry into the sector, recommending a 49% cap on FDI.
This swift expansion in the Indian nuclear power market comes in the wake of the September 2008 nuclear co-operation agreement with the US and subsequent tie-ups with other countries for fuel and technology supply.
On February 11, 2009, the Department of Atomic Energy signed a $700 million contract with Russia's TVEL for supply of 2,000 tonnes of uranium pellets. TVEL also fabricates and delivers fuel for the Kudankulam nuclear power plant being set up in co-operation with Russia.
Earlier, the Nuclear Fuel Complex in Hyderabad had placed an order for 300 tonnes of uranium ore concentrate with France-based Areva.
Available at: http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report_nuclear-power-a-40-bn-opportunity_1270895
Earlier this week, the administration of President Barack Obama quietly cancelled plans for a large-scale facility to recycle nuclear fuel. The move may prove a fatal blow to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) set up by previous president George W. Bush. Nature News looks at the decision, what it means for US nuclear policy, and where a long-hoped-for nuclear renaissance may be headed.
What was GNEP all about?
The US Department of Energy (DoE) set up GNEP in early 2006 to tackle the problems of nuclear proliferation and nuclear waste. As nuclear power spreads, some nations will want the ability to produce their own uranium fuel through enrichment — a process that can also be used to create material for nuclear weapons. The Bush administration hoped to limit proliferation of enrichment technologies by creating a guaranteed fuel supply for non-nuclear weapons states. Through GNEP, countries with enrichment plants, including France, Russia, and the United States, will guarantee a supply of fuel to countries that agree not to develop their own enrichment capabilities.
Once the fuel is used, the supplying nations will take it back and 'reprocess' it for use in their own commercial reactors. Plutonium and unused uranium isotopes can be chemically extracted and put into new fuel pellets that in turn can be used in specially designed reactors. France, Japan, the United Kingdom and Russia already reprocess fuel for commercial use, although the United States hasn't done so since the 1970s.
By reprocessing, these states will maximize the use of the fuel they've created, as well as dramatically reducing the quantity of nuclear waste produced by the fuel cycle.
Sounds like a good deal. Why are environmental campaigners against it?
Reprocessing extracts plutonium isotopes that can be used either in nuclear fuel or as the core of a weapon. Proponents of reprocessing say that the pure plutonium can be blended with other radioactive elements that make it too radioactive to handle easily, but campaigners say that it could still be used be a determined group or organization to make a bomb.
There are also environmental implications. Reprocessing uses acid to dissolve old fuels, creating, in the process, a radioactive sludge that is difficult to immobilize and put into storage. Environmentalists say that it is far more costly and difficult to store than standard spent nuclear fuel.
Lastly comes the price tag. The DoE has stated that a new reprocessing facility in the United States could cost in excess of US$15 billion — no small sum in the current financial climate. Indeed, a similar facility in Rokkasho, Japan is thought to have cost around $20 billion, says Tom Clements, a nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth, a non-profit group that opposes nuclear power.
What exactly has the Obama administration done with regards to GNEP?
The Bush administration had started to draft a "programmatic environmental impact statement" for GNEP, a process that would effectively open the door for the possible future construction of reprocessing plants in the United States. On 29 June, the Obama administration announced that it was cancelling that document. The cancellation means that "the effort to start a commercial reprocessing plant in the United States has totally fizzled out", according to Clements.
Does this mean that reprocessing is again dead in the United States?
Not entirely. The US Congress allocated $145 million for "proliferation resistant fuel cycles and waste management strategies", a set of research and development programmes that includes some reprocessing research, according to Clements.
Clements says that such research won't do much to bring down the cost of reprocessing — or make it any more appealing from an environmental or proliferation standpoint.
But Burton Richter, a physicist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, disagrees. He thinks that finding effective ways to reprocess nuclear fuel can ultimately help the proliferation cause by burning up weapons-grade material. "If you do it right, you can stop the build up of plutonium," he says.
Despite their differences in opinion on reprocessing, both Clements and Richter think it will be a long time before the United States builds a new commercial facility.
What happens next?
The debate goes on. Although the domestic aspect of the GNEP programme seems dead, the Obama administration may still try to use the programme to address international fuel cycle and proliferation issues.
The administration may also address some of these issues through a panel that will be named later this year to look at the long-term US strategy for nuclear-waste disposal.
But even if GNEP doesn't go forward, the idea of providing a reliable fuel supply to nations without enrichment capabilities is unlikely to die. The International Atomic Energy Agency is considering several proposals for a multinational fuel bank that would perform a similar role to GNEP.
Available at: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090702/full/news.2009.619.html
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.